The Way of God’s People


Sermon Text: Exodus 6:14-27
Sermon Series: “Exodus” (#10)
Sermon Video: Click here to watch

Main Points:
I. God calls from ordinary people
II. Not all but some are called
III. God’s people are faithful to their call

Let me give you an outline of what we’ve been listening to in the present sermon series so far. Jacob and his 70 family members settled in Egypt. Sometime later, Israel became slaves to Egyptians and lived as such for more than three centuries. When the time set by God came, He prepared a saviour and that was Moses. As God spared him from genocide, He prepared Moses for forty years in Egypt, then, in the Midianite wilderness for another forty years. Finally, God called him and sent him alongside his brother Aaron to Pharaoh to demand Israel’s freedom. Pharaoh refused that request. Moreover, Egyptian king imposed a heavier burden upon Israel. This is a summary of the first six chapters of Exodus. What will follow in the next a few chapters is an exciting account of plagues as God’s judgments upon Pharaoh and his people.

Before we start hearing of those plagues, we have a list of names, the genealogy of Moses and Aaron. If you’ve wondered with the nature and purpose of this genealogy, you are not alone because many others have also wondered and asked, ‘What is this genealogy doing here?’ Some think it was mistakenly inserted, while some others consider it as one of the negligible sections in the Bible.

But God’s word disagrees with any of their ideas. Instead, we’re told that this section too is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God [God’s children] may be complete, equipped for every good work.” That means, we should humbly read this genealogy of Moses and Aaron and thankfully meditate in order to add more depth to our understanding of God’s saving grace which brought Jesus to die on our behalf so that we may have His life.

So, this genealogy is intentionally placed at this very spot in ch. 6. Before our minds get occupied with God’s plagues and miracles in Exodus, God makes sure that we keep in mind that He is our God and we’re His, as Israel in Egypt was His firstborn. In this sense, this genealogy is a snapshot or picture of something far greater in size and depth. Like the way a still photo often conveys crisp and in-depth information better than a video clip does, this genealogy is a snapshot of ‘the way of God’s people.’ I mean, an example of how God’s people live their lives. Simply put, this genealogy of Moses and Aaron reminds us of our identity as well as our life’s purpose.

So, let’s begin and think about ‘the way of God’s people’ with this family history of Moses and Aaron.

The first point I’d like to talk about is the historicity of this genealogy. I mean, the people in this list were real people; they lived and had their beings on earth at certain points in time. They were not imaginary as Israel’s slavery in Egypt was not fictional. These people in the list were not an extraordinary group of people either, but just as ordinary as any of us here. So, this family history proves to us that God calls ordinary people who are sinners, and makes them special before Him by cleansing of their sins and adopting them as His own children.

It is interesting to see that some names in Moses’ family line provide a strong support to this conclusion. For example, the name ‘Korah’ that appears in v. 21 means ‘bald’ or ‘baldhead,’ and this name helps us imagine his parents’ reaction to a hairless baby at birth. His brother’s name, Nepheg, in the same verse means ‘clumsy.’ We know nothing about him but could depict some of his nature. Thinking about these names of brothers, I wonder what sort of a person their father might’ve been. So, I checked out their father, Izhar, and the meaning of his name. It is ‘olive oil’ or ‘he sparkles.’ I believe he must’ve been brilliant at least in naming.

Let me give you some more names and their meanings, and these names tell us how these people in Moses’ family line reflected their faith on their children’s names. First of all, Shaul in v. 15 means ‘Prayer’s answer’ and Elzaphan in v. 22 means ‘God has treasured.’ Eleazar, one of Aaron’s sons, means ‘God has aided.’ Jochebed was the mother of both Aaron and Moses and her name, Jochebed, means ‘God’s glory.’ Elkanah was another name that attracts our attention. He was one of Korah’s sons as listed in v. 24 and Elkanah means ‘God has created.’ Interestingly, however, Elkanah’s father, Korah, who named him was a typical example of unbelievers and enemies of God’s people in the time of Exodus. He and his family were destroyed by God for his sin in the wilderness. But he named his son as ‘God has created.’

I believe that you see how these names support and prove that God’s people were and are not extraordinary ones but called from ordinary people. We’re special because of God’s calling and His cleaning us of our sins with the blood of His Son Jesus and adopting us into His family!

We can see why the Lord Jesus tells us that His offer of salvation is for ‘everyone’ who comes to Him in repentance and faith. There’s no distinction in race, age, possession, young or old, male or female; Jesus’ offer of His eternal life is for any and all ordinary people who recognise their sins and desperate need of a Saviour, thus, come to Him, the Son of God. God saves not because anyone is special, but Jesus graciously gives His life to sinners who come to Him and ask His forgiveness and eternal life. Such is the way of God’s people – called and saved by grace alone.

But not all people in this genealogy were saved. Some of them were obviously not included in the number of God’s saved people. The typical example was Korah of v. 24. He was, in fact, one of Moses and Aaron’s cousins. Moses’ father, Amram, and Korah’s father, Izhar, were brothers.

What he did and how God judged him are recorded in Num. 16. It happened after Israel heard a report from the 12 spies returned from Canaan and were disheartened. Then, without God’s command or approval, the people of Israel wanted to go up to Canaan and take possession of the land. Moses tried to stop them but they did not listen. Then, they were badly defeated by the Canaanites. Not too long after that disheartening event, Korah stirred some people up and, together with them, rebelled against Moses and Aaron. So, God’s judgment fell upon them – the ground split apart and swallowed up Korah and his family as well as all who stood together with Korah in that rebellion. Num. 16:33 states, “So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.” Korah was Israelite, but he was not of God’s people.

Others who catch our attention are Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons. These two were priests after their father, Aaron. But they were not of God’s people. The evidence is given in Lev. 10. As priests of God, they were to follow all commands of God in terms of worship and leading God’s people to the presence of their great God. But they did the opposite. According to Lev. 10, they didn’t follow God’s way but invented their own way of worshipping the Lord. They offered ‘unauthorised fire’ before Jehovah, the God of the covenant. Because of this sin, fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them. God killed them at the spot.

Who were these people? Korah was a cousin of both Moses and Aaron, those great men of faith in Israel; Nadab and Abihu were Aaron’s own sons. But these men and all who belonged to Korah were under God’s judgment! Korah is one of the rare cases mentioned in the Bible as fallen in hell. How could this happen? How could these of such great biblical figures like Moses and Aaron be excluded from the family of God? It’s almost impossible to both imagine or believe, but that’s what the word of God tells us.

What does this mean? What does this tell you and me? A simple truth – yet, it could be quite disturbing to many of us. That is, our own parent or sibling or child or grandchild, let alone our dear friend, might not be called, thus, excluded from God’s household. This truth tells us that not all but some are called and saved. This truth makes us shiver, but it’s an undeniable truth of God. Like the way God’s people are called not from extraordinary people but from sinners, not all are saved but only some.

This truth prompts two extreme responses from believer’s heart and soul. The first is a deep pain in our heart. Seeing my loving family member perishing in sin shatters my heart and, considering its end, our heart breaks into tears. I believe every one of us gathered here this morning know what sort of pain this is and have been shedding tears for our loving ones, even at this very moment.

The other response is completely opposite, and it is a deep joy that rises from the bottom of our soul. The basis of this joy is our soul’s gratitude to God’s grace through which He called us and washed of our sins and made us God’s own dear children. Every believing soul understands that he/she never deserves God’s saving grace; we did not do anything that could be recognised in God’s eyes as good or worthy or anything in that sense. Sinners we were, but we’re saints now in Jesus Christ! So, joy and thanks rise constantly from our soul. This is the way of God’s people – rejoicing in thankful heart for immeasurable grace of God through Jesus, while grieving for sinners and seeking God’s grace for them!

The last point we should consider with this genealogy is the most important aspect of the way of God’s people. That is, ‘God’s people are faithful to their call.’ This is another mystery to our eyes and hearts, following the mystery of our salvation by grace. Why is it a mystery? The genealogy of Moses and Aaron’s family tells us why.

Firstly, consider Levi’s three sons – Gershon, Kohath and Merari – and their descendants. After Exodus, they were given important roles in serving at the tabernacle. Gershon and his house were, according to Num. 3, in charge of the curtains. Kohath and his house were responsible for the care of the ark of the covenant and the table and the lampstand in the sanctuary, and so on. In a word, they were the ‘interior designers’ as Graham Ryken and Kent Hughes put. Lastly, Merari and his sons were appointed to take care of the frames of the tabernacle, including its crossbars, posts, bases and all its equipment. And all these Levi’s sons and their families carried their works well and faithfully. How do I know that? Based on the fact that the tabernacle was carried away by these men for forty years in the wilderness.

Some of you might think, ‘They did a good job, but what’s so amazing about that?’ Let me remind you of their former way of life in Egypt. They had been slaves over more than three centuries. All they had known throughout their life was brick making or other similar works slaves would usually do. In Egyptian slavery, they had done nothing glorious. But being freed by God’s grace, they are doing the works in the name of the God Almighty! And that, faithfully, diligently, with full joy in their hearts. Wouldn’t it be a mystery to your eyes as much as to theirs? Of course, yes. They worshipped God rejoicing and, in addition, they were helping and leading others to come closer to God daily through worship.

Moreover, we have a man in this genealogy whose name was Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, as appears in v. 25. His name means ‘the dark-skinned’ or ‘black man.’ Because of this name, some people guess that his mum could’ve been Ethiopian. But, race wasn’t and still is not an issue at all in becoming God’s children, and Phinehas played an important role in keeping Israel’s faith pure. In Num. 25, Israel fell in sin of idol worship. They followed the way of the Moabites and worshipped Baal and other gods of the Moabites. Phinehas killed an Israelite man whose name was Zimri and together with him a Moabite woman whom Zimri had brought into the tabernacle of God. Phinehas’ zeal for the Lord turned God’s judgment away from Israel and saved many. In fact, Phinehas’ zeal and work reflect the zeal and work of Christ for God’s glory and saved numerous sinners including you and me.

The point is that God enables His people to serve well and faithfully. He turns slaves into freemen. Moreover, He turns them into worshippers. Moses was a criminal, renegade, and Aaron was a mere slave. But God made them His own prophet and prophet’s spokesman. Many others of Israel served God in various ways. Likewise, even today, former slaves to sin faithfully serve God and His Church, rejoicing in their freedom even from the pangs of death! God enables each one to serve well. Although it takes time, the ultimate way of each Christian is to be holy before God, being faithful to each one’s call.

In closing, let me remind you, my fellow Christians, of the fact that you and I are listed on the genealogy of God’s family – in another word, on His Book of Life. The genealogy we find in Ex. 6 is a fragment of that Book. And your name and mine are there as Christ has recorded ours in His blood.

Now, what should be our response to this amazing truth? It’s simple – we should rejoice and be faithful to each one’s call. More specifically, if you’re called to be a part of those responsible in Christ’s church for ‘welcoming’ or ‘caring for people’ or ‘maintaining finance and property’ or ‘praying for others’ or ‘keeping God’s truth and His church pure’ – whatever it is – you should remain faithful to God. In doing all faithfully, always remember that God who called you will strengthen you to love and serve, and through your words and works, God will call more into our number. Give glory to God and praise to Christ our Saviour and Lord! ***

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